May Focus: The 5 Vayus
In order for our body to function and correctly perform all those beautiful, almost magical functions, it needs vital energy, or else, the Prana Shakti. Prana, just like blood, flows through and extensive energy network inside of us, which consists of 72,000 energy channels (the Nadis), and is powered by the parapsychic centres (the Chakras). The greatest inflow of Prana in our organism takes place through breathing. In the tradition of Yoga, depending on its functions, the organs it supplies, and the part of the body where it circulates, Prana is categorized under the 5 Vayus. Vayu means “wind” or “air”. Understanding those 5 Vayus will help us find a better understanding of the Prana forces as well, and thus, leverage them in order to come closer to our innate health and vitality.
The 5 Vayus (or the 5 manifestations of Prana)
Prana Vayu – It is found between the larynx and the top of the diaphragm. It controls all of the cardiac and lung functions, as well as the action of intake, i.e. all the ways through which we take energy into the body (inhalation, food, water, sounds, odors, ideas, inspiration etc).
Apana Vayu – The Apana Vayu sits in the pelvic area, between the belly button and the perineum. It is responsible for the outward flow of energy, and thus, it controls the exhalation and other forms of waste elimination, such as excretion, urination, gas expulsion, and consequently, the kidneys, the bladder, the intestines, and the excretory and reproductive organs in whole. Menstruation, ejaculation and labor are also under its influence. The appropriate management of apana can help with avoiding unnecessary energy loss.
Samana Vayu – The Samana Vayu is found between the belly button and the thorax and it is the function of the Prana which assimilates incoming energy. Set between the 2 opposite Prana forces (Prana and Apana) it operates as the balancing factor of these two tendencies. It activates and controls the digestive organs and turns the belly, into a power plant, responsible for digesting everything, from food to thoughts, feelings and spiritual activity. When Samana is weak, we have a hard time assimilating not only that which we consume, but our mental and emotional experiences as well.
Udana Vayu – Udana Vayu is at the body extremities, and more specifically at the head, arms and legs. So, it controls the extremities, the sensory organs and the action organs, as well as growth. When it is balanced, we stand tall; we are more passionate, spontaneous and honest, full of certainty and confidence.
Vyana Vayu – The Vyana Vayu is the force that permeates the entire body, distributes Prana and acts as the our energy reserve. It supports all the other Prana manifestations, when a powerful boost is required, and also it coordinates them and it affects muscle movement, expansion and permeability.
A practice based on the 5 Vayus is a beautiful, perpetual quest, but the direction is subtle and not always clear. Many times we find different, often contradictory interpretations of the 5 Vayus in all the different texts and traditions. It is important to keep in mind that those models are given to us are guidelines. Their variation does not necessarily mean that there is a lack of cohesion, but it is rather the impression of a different experience or a different expression of the same thing, the Prana Shakti. Everything is included and all the manifestations of Prana are potentially everywhere. The model of the 5 Vayus is a wonderful tool to release perception and to slowly start gaining the experience of an unexplored but vital part of ourselves, the energy body or Pranayama Kosha.
By Anastasia Biliri,
οf the Neda Yoga Shala Team.